Is There is a Laffer Curve for Dividend Taxes?

The Club for Growth uses this spin to suggest there is. If one skips to the bottom of page 2 for the last graph, all of the action is there. But wait – tax revenues have been falling even if personal dividend income rose from $392.8 billion in 2003 to $441.4 billion in 2004. But the authors of this spin want you to forget about this saying tax collections lag dividend income and would prefer you to focus on the apparent surge in dividend income since 1992.

One can explore this further by going to the NIPA tables from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal dividend income is line 15 in table 2.1. If one looks at this relative to GDP (see table 1.1.5), the ratio displays a very cylical pattern as one might expect. Interestingly, dividend income was 4% of GDP for both 1997 and 1998 but was only 3.76% of GDP for 2004. Laffer effect or Keynesian business cycle?